Zaragoza, Image by Pedro Sanz on Unsplash
Zaragoza is Spain’s fifth-largest city and is situated in the Aragon region, in Spain’s northeastern region. It is nestled between its larger neighbors Madrid and Barcelona, making it the perfect halfway stop for exploring.
Zaragoza is not as well known as some of the other iconic Spanish cities, but it has over 2000 years of rich history, given that it was an autonomous kingdom that was ruled by the Romans, Moors, and Christians, with each leaving their mark on the city. Nowhere is this more evident than the Aljaferia Palace (or the Palacio de la Aljafería in Spanish)
The Aljaferia Palace is the perfect blend of Islamic and Catholic culture that has been carefully preserved throughout centuries for visitors to marvel at today.
Looking for other things to do while you’re in Zaragoza? Check out our guide on the Best Things to do in Zaragoza.
Brief History of Aljaferia Palace
Image by Pixels4Free from Pixabay
The Aljaferia Palace has been used for different purposes throughout history. Aljaferia is one of the finest pieces of evidence of the Islamic-era ruling in Spain. Aljaferia was initially built in the 11th century as a leisure palace for the Taifas kings, Al-Muqtadir from the Hudid Dynasty, and Taifa Saraqusta. It was initially named Qasr al-Surur (meaning Palace of Joy).
The Palace then became the official royal residence of the Christian kings following the successful conquest of Zaragoza by Alfonso of Aragon, towards the end of the 11th century.
In the 1400s the palace had undergone another change of ownership, this time by the Catholic Monarchs Fernando and Isabel who added their own extension onto the palace.
In 1593, Aljaferia was then transformed into a military fortress to protect it from invasions and attacks from neighboring countries and cities. The Palace combines Islamic, Mudejar, and Gothic architecture styles.
Aljaferia Palace Today
Today Aljaferia stands as an important symbol of Zaragoza’s history. In 1986 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and in 2001 it was added to the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon. Today the Aljaferia Palace is the headquarters of the Regional Parliament of the Autonomous Community of Aragon.
Tour of Aljaferia Palace
Here’s what you can expect to see on your tour of Palacio de la Aljafería.
Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay
Start your tour of Aljaferia by crossing into an introductory courtyard into the Patio de Santa Isabel which was the Islamic palace’s central courtyard. In this area, you will be able to see the delicately interwoven arches, which is a signature of Islamic architecture.
Then make your way to the northern part, known as the Salon de Oro, where the palace’s throne room is located. You’ll also find a small Oratorio (prayer room) with finely chiseled floral motifs and inscriptions from the Quran.
As you make your way up Aljaferia’s stairs, you’ll then pass through the rooms of the Palacio Cristiano Medieval which were created by the Aragonese Monarch in the 14th century, and the Palacio de Los Reyes Católicos (the Catholics Monarch’s Palace). In this section, you’ll find some of the exquisite Mudejar architecture.
Other Points of Interest in Aljaferia Palace
There are many beautiful gems in the palace, but here’s an idea of some other places that you might find interesting during your tour
Tower of el Trovador
This is the oldest part of the Aljaferia Palace. It was initially built in the 9th century as a watchtower. In the 11th century, the Hudid King’s added it to the palace’s fortress. It also holds a secret entrance to a mosque that was used for the king’s private use.
The Salon Dorado
Also known as “The Golden Hall”, this section of the palace formed a series of private bedrooms for the royal families. Here you’ll find stunning detailed coffered ceilings, a signature of Mudejar architecture.
Important Information About Aljaferia
Below you’ll find some important information that you’ll need when planning a visit to the Aljaferia Palace.
Address and Contact Details
- Calle de Los Diputados, Zaragoza
- +34 976 289 683
- Reservations: +976 28 96 85
- Mornings: 10 am- 2 pm (Except for Thursdays and Fridays)
- Morning Guided Tours: 10:30 am, 11:30 am, and 12:30 pm
- Afternoon Tours (November- March and excluding Thursdays): 4 pm – 6:30 pm
- Afternoon Guided Tours: 4:30 pm and 5: 30 pm
- Afternoon Tours (April- October): from 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm
- English and French Tours (July and August): 10 am and 5 pm
Information Regarding Opening Times
In the months of January, July, and August, the Palace can be visited every day of the week. On certain Thursday and Friday mornings, the Palace may be closed due to parliamentary sessions. Access to the palace ends 30minutes before closing time.
Most of the tours are held daily in Spanish. However, there are two daily guided tours in English and French in July and August.
Tickets and Prices
- Adults: $6 (5€)
- Pensioners: $1 (1€)
- Students and Youth card Holders: $1 (1€)
- Groups(More than 20 people): $5 (4€)
- Free: On Sundays and for children under the age of 12
Getting to Aljaferia Palace
Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Zaragoza has a wonderful high-speed train that links it to Madrid and Barcelona. The travel time between Zaragoza and Madrid is roughly around 1h 15min and 1h 50min from Zaragoza to Barcelona.
The Delicias Station also links Zaragoza to other major cities in Spain and tickets start from as low as $6. From the station, Aljaferia Palace is only 1,37-miles, so you can either take a cab, one of the local buses or walk.
Final Thoughts on the Aljaferia Palace
The Aljaferia Palace is without a doubt one of the treasures of Spain and forms an important part of Zaragoza’s history. Each dynasty that ruled in Zaragoza left its mark on this important monument, and nowhere is this more evident than at the Palacio de la Aljafería.
Be prepared to be blown away by the magnificent blend of Islamic, Mudejar, and Gothic architecture and artistic styles. This 2000-year-old masterpiece has been carefully preserved by the custodians of the city and is a place you should absolutely visit whether you’re staying in Zaragoza, or just passing on your way to Zaragoza’s neighbors Madrid and Barcelona.